India Clears Dassault's Rafale Fighter Jet Deal


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NEW DELHI—India on Wednesday cleared the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France'sDassault Aviation SA, in a long-delayed move to modernize and expand its aging fleet of combat aircraft.

The approval was given by India'sCabinet Committee on Security, which is headed by the country's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said two senior government officials.

The officials didn't want to be named or disclose the exact value of the deal which analysts estimate to be in the billions of dollars.

India originally selected Dassault in 2012 over offerings from Eurofighter, Russia's RAC MiG, Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Saab AB. At the time, India was the only foreign buyer for the jet.

The order has been stuck in negotiations with two successive governments over the cost of the planes, as well as Dassault's refusal to guarantee the performance and quality of the planes that were originally to be assembled by India'sHindustan Aeronautics Ltd.

In April of last year, Mr. Modi's government reduced the size of the deal to 36 jets from 126, and removed a condition that the majority of them be assembled in India by the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics.

India's air force had been urging the government to move quickly with the deal to replace its dwindling fleet of Soviet-era fighters as it prepares to face an increasingly assertive China.

India, which has in recent years become the world's largest importer of weapons, depends on imports from countries like Russia, the U.S., France and Israel for most of its arms requirements but placing orders usually takes years.

Write to Santanu Choudhury at

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